RSPCA welcomes decision as ‘game changing’


We have hailed a historic decision by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to uphold a ban on seal products that are a product of the cruel seal hunting industry.

In 2010 the EU ban prohibited the trade in products from all commercial seal hunts, including those in Canada, Namibia and Norway (although it does not affect sealing by Inuit and other indigenous peoples).

Seal hunting ‘cruel and unnecessary’

At the time animal welfare groups including the  RSPCA, WSPA, the Humane Society International and Eurogroup argued that   commercial seal hunting, in countries such as Canada, where the mammals are clubbed or shot for their fur, is both ‘cruel and unnecessary’.

Following the 2010 ban, the Canadian Government appealed to have the ban overturned, but yesterday (25 November) this appeal was rejected by the WTO.

David Bowles, head of RSPCA public affairs, said:

“This is an historic decision – it is the first time that a moral defence has been upheld in entirety and that in itself is game changing.


“This decision is not only important for animal welfare but  it could also affect the way governments treat other social issues such as improving standards on child labour going forward.”

In a written decision published on Monday, the WTO rejected the appeal from Canada against a 2010 ban, stating it was valid because of a public morals clause. A similar decision was filed against a challenge brought against the ban by Norway, another country that allows a commercial seal hunt.

Although the Canada’s seal hunt is much smaller than it was years ago, it continues to generate controversy.

The commercial seal hunt off Newfoundland last spring landed about 91,000 harp seals, up from 69,000 the year before but far short of the federal quota of 400,000.